Hands-On With Toshiba's Folio 100 Android Tablet: Should The iPad Be Worried?

This week at IFA here in Berlin there are plenty of new tablets to play with. I stopped by the Toshiba booth to get some hands-on time with their newly-announced Folio 100, a 10.1-inch Android slate. This Nvidia Tegra 2 tablet has multimedia chops for sure, but that might not be enough to make up for what some will see as a rather glaring omission: no Android Market.

The Folio 100 is a good-looking tablet, but its aesthetics serve to give a good impression, then get out of the way of the user experience. As such, the screen is the star of the show, naturally. I loved the feel of the 1.6 pound device and I'm impressed with its 0.55-inch profile.

Colors on the 1024 x 600 resolution display were appropriately rich, and the capacitive multitouch screen responded easily to taps and swipes. Android 2.2 looks great with an even bigger canvas to work with. The company has added a few UI tweaks to make the OS even slicker.

Due to the Tegra 2 chip inside it's no surprise that video looks and plays really well on the Folio 100. And Toshiba is positioning this tablet as a media hub more than as an ultra mobile work device, though it has those capabilities, too. Amongst the pre-loaded apps we spied the Toshiba Media Player as well as DocumentsToGo. I tested the Flash 10.1 support by watching a standard-def video on YouTube and came away impressed with the smoothness at full screen. Most netbooks can't match these framerates and hitch-free playback.

The HDMI out port will certainly gain this tablet some fans. Currently the Samsung Galaxy Tab doesn't have HDMI out capability -- though it's possible via the 30-pin connector -- but it does have TV-out via an adapter to RCA cables. There are pros and cons to each approach, but in an increasingly HD-obsessed media landscape, the Folio 100 has a leg up in this area for the moment. Both devices are DLNA-capable, though, which allows for connection and sharing across platforms and devices.

The front-facing camera, internal mic and headphone jack means it's video chat ready (we spied Fring pre-loaded on a demo unit), but telephony functionality isn't necessarily in the cards. Some models in some markets will have mobile broadband capability according to the press release, but no details on whether the U.S. is one of them.

Apparently this is what kept the tablet from Google Certification, so you won't find the Android Market here. For some people that's a dealbreaker, especially now that the Galaxy Tab and the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 have certification. Toshiba hopes to counter any hesitation for consumers with their own Market Place. Not only will you find apps but also music, HD video, and eBooks on sale. The company is working with developers already and hopes to attract more to the platform. Whether they'll be able to build that library fast enough to attract enough buyers remains to be seen.

As long as Toshiba is able to provide enough content and functionality to satisfy users, I think this tablet could be a hit. It'll be out around November in Europe, but American fans will have to wait until early next year before we can get our hands on it. Though that's bad news for those of you who want it now, it hopefully means that by the time it makes it to our market the kinks will be worked out, more developers will be on board, and perhaps some media partnerships will emerge.

Check out our hands-on video below plus a full specs list and images:

  • CPU: Nvidia Tegra 2
  • Display: 10.1-inch capacitive multitouch; 1024 x 600 res
  • OS: Android 2.2
  • Internal Storage: 16 GB
  • Connectivity: WLAN (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, Mobile Broadband (soon available in certain models and countries)
  • Ports: mini HDMI, 1 USB 2.0, 1 mini USB, SD/MMC Card Reader
  • Rotation: accelerometer
  • Webcam: 1.3 MP
  • Battery life: 7 hours (65% web browsing, 10% video playback, 25% standby)
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs
  • Size: 11.1 x 7.1 x 0.55 inches